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First steps on a Golden Road

Germany
Von Jürgen Herda   auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
So let’s begin with a question: What am I? I have a shimmering name, but I am mostly grey. At my most Easterly point a Kaiser set his court scientists the task of producing a metal after which I am named. At my most Westerly point there is a fountain adorning the marketplace in this most valuable of colours. Along my length Castles and palaces line the route like pearls, yet I am not a line, but rather an interwoven thread. Goods were carried on my dusty shoulders and in later years what I had joined for hundreds of years was cruelly separated by an iron curtain.
GALLERY
‘Gulden Strass’ was the official title awarded to this route and was first recorded in 1513 by the Bernauer Archivist Hans von Uttelhofen. Kaiser Charles IV- who spent his childhood in Paris with his German father and Czech mother- was able to build and establish a policed trade route between his favoured residences in Prague and Nurnberg after buying up large areas of the Upper Palatinate (Oberpfalz) in the 14 century.

He decided upon a route, which he left policed by ‘caretakers’ through Weiden, Bärnau and Tachov, a route he himself travelled 52 times. But it wasn’t the modern businessmen who first sought to avoid the tolls that financed such routes. A second route was carved through Wernberg, Leuchtenberg, Waidhaus, and Pride, which was very soon a popular alternative, a ‘Forbidden Street’. The Golden Road was always more than just a straight line between Nurnberg, the city on the Pegnitz and the Golden City, and the established and blooming trade between Bavaria and Bohemia could not be limited to a thin line drawn between the two points, despite the best intentions of the Kaiser.
Hohenstein Castle

Life was pulsating in this important medieval trade centre with its innumerable fortified castles and houses, many craftsmen and artists, Jewish academics and tradesmen who contributed over hundreds of years to the many attributes and advantages, and created bonds between the most important towns and settlements. The travelling salesmen didn’t just limit themselves to trade directly on the route, but they included towns further afield such as Amberg, Nabburg, or Eger, not only to close lucrative business deals but to enjoy the facilities and hospitality of these places of interest. Due to this diversity and integration over many hundreds of years a distinctive culture and business heritage has developed, from the language to the kitchen, in the churches and the castles, at home and at work. We would like you to join us on the Golden Road and with the help of our guide rediscover this fascinating region. The ancient Carolingian trade route constitutes today the major route from Paris to Prague.

Away from motorways and mass tourism there are little known castles and country houses, idyllic landscape and ancient monuments, traditional church festivals and comfy local inns serving typical Bavarian/Bohemian dishes. But as the saying goes, not everything that glitters is gold- and on our travels we discover the many different faces of the region. That is the
Jugendstil-Café im Obecní Dům, dem Repräsentationshaus.
burden every traveller has to bear: if you travel the world with open eyes you will inevitably also sometimes see the less pretty side of things. That of course applies to the history of the region as well as the present day. Warring generals used the Golden Road to their own ends. Jan Hus, the protestant martyr travelled along it and was executed at the stake in Constance. Hussite partisans and catholic adversaries fought terrible battles and spread fear throughout the region. Blind ideologies created increasingly impermeable barriers between two peoples who had been so similar in temperament and so close for generations. The nationalist catastrophe of the 20th Century then tore apart what had been bound together for so many years: first through the barbarian annexation of the neighbouring countries to create the protectorates of Bohemia and Moravia and then in a counter-reaction by banishing the German Bohemians. The evidence of the damage caused in the last few centuries has yet to be removed.

Lost villages, neglected architecture, and other sad tales have left their mark on the route as we try to discover what remains below the surface.

International organisations have taken over the restoration of dilapidated chapels, farmhouse ruins, and tumbledown townhouses. An expedition through these former border areas and Bohemian settlements is not like any organised tour by a high street travel agent, but if you are willing to take the rough with the smooth you can experience something very special.

The Reconstruction of a Cultural Landscape within Central Europe


International organisations have taken over the restoration of dilapidated chapels, farmhouse ruins, and tumbledown townhouses. An expedition through these former border areas and Bohemian settlements is not like any organised tour by a high street travel agent, but if you are willing to take the rough with the smooth you can experience something very special.

Those who are lucky enough to feel at home on both sides of the border know despite all base stereotypical comparisons that Bavaria and Bohemia are really very similar. They are as the saying goes ‘cut from the same wood’, the oak of the ancient Bohemian Forests. Bavaria and Bohemia are united in their love of beer, roast pork and dumplings, of virtuosic folk music like the quick time and the Polka, and no ‘Spitzbua’ roughly translated as a ‘cheeky chap’ can imagine a day without monkeying around, or ‘Frotzeln’.

Come with us on a journey. The following 140 pages tell of a country and the people who live there, but don’t be surprised if the pictures are not the prettiest. The humour and the authenticity will offer you unparalleled perspectives and truly golden experiences.



This Article is part of the tour "The Golden Road"
Travel
 

 

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